Five minutes with: Waldorf Astoria RAK spa manager

We catch up with Louise Dennis, who reveals new launches and shares her thoughts on training and leadership

Louise Dennis
Louise Dennis

• Were you always interested in wellness?
Absolutely, my background is in fitness, which is obviously a very important element of wellness. Over the years this interest developed and broadened into all aspects of wellness and spa, allowing me to draw from a variety of techniques and uncover new trends to ensure we are always offering our guests the best wellness experience. It truly is a passion for me, so it was a great honour to have our work acknowledged by the World Luxury Spa Awards this year, winning “Best Luxury Resort Spa – United Arab Emirates”

• How would you describe the concept of the Amra spa?
AMRA Spa is couples spa experience that utilising the properties of precious stones, to create a next level luxury spa treatment. AMRA products are only available at Waldorf Astoria hotels in the UAE and at Ras Al Khaimah we are working with the pearl products. Not only does the Pearl product line suit all skin types, but it also aligns and evokes the local history and significance of pearls in the region.

• What would you say are three key things that any successful spa manager should have in mind?
Positive Leadership –For a spa manager it is key to lead by example and ensure that the team is motivated and happy. In a spa environment the positive ambience of the department is vital as this directly effects the guest’s experience. Remaining positive and acting as a supportive guide to employees provides the foundations for a strong and productive team.  
Attention to Detail – This is so important in every aspect of the spa journey, particularly in a luxury spa. Each part of the experience should have a story behind it, from the tea that is being served, to the products and the treatment chosen, the quality of the linen on the spa bed and even the music that is played. Each plays a part in creating a unique memory for our guests.
Understanding the Guest – Having the knowledge to be able to guide the guest as to what treatment they should have begins at the spa reception. The team needs to be fully trained and experienced to understand the menu fully, listen to what the guest wants, and be able to advise them on the correct treatment so they leave feeling completely relaxed and happy with their experience. As a spa manager it is my role to guide my team on this to help to understand our guests, considering all the information we have available to make an informed recommendation and a tailor-made experience.

• What is your approach to training? 
For me training is so important and something we are constantly doing both formally and informally. Training is not confined to a specific role, as primarily each team member should understand and be an ambassador for the hotel as a whole. I encourage cross role training which promotes support and development throughout the team and allows for on the job training and daily learning. On top of this we conduct regular formal in house training and refresher training sessions from the Product House Trainers, who are able to impart expert advice and unbiased assessments.

• Are customers in this region more demanding in terms of service standards?
Guests in this region are well educated on the latest trends and products and in general know exactly what they want. For me demanding would be the wrong word, but there are certainly high-expectations. As a globally recognised 5-star brand, it is our job to meet and where possible exceed these expectations, this can be challenging, but I believe it pushes us to be better.

• What are some trends that you see emerging in the spa and wellness industry?
The scope of wellness treatments, techniques and experiences are constantly changing and we are seeing more and more demand for facilities that offer everything in one place. Guests now want an A to Z wellness experience from fitness and massage to diet, sleep and stress remedies.
Personalisation continues to grow as a trend, aligning with the ‘One stop shop’ wellness experience. As technology improves, personalisation is moving from a trend to an expected standard in this industry and it is something we need to constantly keep in mind as we take on new product trends and techniques. 

• Do you have any new treatments or product launches coming soon?
We will be part of the ‘World Wellness Weekend’ in September offering facials workshops, beach cabana massages, sunset yoga as well as other activities. We will also be hosting a VOYA ‘Open Evening’ at the spa in October. We will invite our regular spa goers and members to join us for a fun evening at the spa in which they can witness VOYA treatments, enjoy mini massages and have the chance to win spa treatments.

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